The Elgar Companion to Social Economics, Second Edition
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The Elgar Companion to Social Economics, Second Edition

Edited by John B. Davis and Wilfred Dolfsma

Social economics is a dynamic and growing field that emphasizes the key roles social values play in the economy and economic life. This second edition of the Elgar Companion to Social Economics revises all chapters from the first edition, and adds important new chapters to reflect the expansion and development of social economics. The expert contributions explain a wide range of recent developments across different subject areas and topics in the field, mapping out possible directions of future social economic research. Social economics treats the economy and economics as embedded in a web of social and ethical relationships. It considers economics and ethics as essentially connected, and adds values such as justice, fairness, dignity, well-being, freedom, and equality to the standard emphasis on efficiency. This book will be a leading resource and guide to social economics for many years to come.
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Chapter 28: Methodological approaches in economics and anthropology

Pranab Bardhan and Isha Ray


Economics and anthropology are often seen as extremes along the social science continuum, and the methodological differences between them have rendered interdisciplinary work especially challenging. Our goal in this chapter is not to ‘resolve’ these methodological divides, but to understand what is important to each discipline, and see the divides in the light of that understanding. There are some foundational dichotomies that broadly divide mainstream economists from mainstream social and cultural anthropologists, and in this chapter we explore the role of these dichotomies. There have always been some economists and anthropologists who have engaged constructively with the work of the other group. Sahlins argued that the marginalist principles of modern economics were inadequate to explain the gift- and network-based economies of older societies (Sahlins, 1972 [2004]). Geertz (1978) showed that the intense bargaining and client cultivation of markets in Morocco were the result of poorly distributed information and noisy communication networks. Sen placed freedom and individual dignity at the core of his welfare economics (Sen, 1999). Appadurai has engaged in a series of dialogues between his ‘enfranchisement’ and Sen’s ‘entitlements’, his ‘capacities’ and Sen’s ‘capabilities’ (Appadurai, 2004). Douglas introduced the framework of cultural theory into traditionally economic concepts such as risk and consumption (Douglas, 1992; Douglas and Isherwood, 1996).

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